The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah
Genre: Adult, Fantasy
Publishing Info: Audiobook by Hachette Audio UK, May 2022, narrated by Nikki Massoud, Rasha Zamamiri, Sean Rohani
Star Rating: 3/5
Back Cover Summary:
Inspired by stories from One Thousand and One Nights, this book weaves together the gripping tale of a legendary smuggler, a cowardly prince, and a dangerous quest across the desert to find a legendary, magical lamp.
Neither here nor there, but long ago . . .
Loulie al-Nazari is the Midnight Merchant: a criminal who, with the help of her jinn bodyguard, hunts and sells illegal magic. When she saves the life of a cowardly prince, she draws the attention of his powerful father, the sultan, who blackmails her into finding an ancient lamp that has the power to revive the barren land—at the cost of sacrificing all jinn.
With no choice but to obey or be executed, Loulie journeys with the sultan’s oldest son to find the artifact. Aided by her bodyguard, who has secrets of his own, they must survive ghoul attacks, outwit a vengeful jinn queen, and confront a malicious killer from Loulie’s past. And, in a world where story is reality and illusion is truth, Loulie will discover that everything—her enemy, her magic, even her own past—is not what it seems, and she must decide who she will become in this new reality.
Full of adventure and magic, The Stardust Thief takes readers on a journey through an Arab-inspired fantasy world where our protagonists take on a perilous quest fraught with danger. This fantasy debut is inspired by One Thousand and One Nights and uses storytelling as a theme throughout, weaving the stories and myths the protagonists know with the truth of the jinn they come to discover.
It took a little while for me to really get into this book. However, I enjoyed it more as the story progressed. There were some great twists in the second half which left me terrified for my favourite characters, as well as exciting and magical action. The novel focuses on the quest and the characters’ journeys, so if you are looking for fantasy without romance, I’d recommend giving this one a go.
The Stardust Thief follows four main characters and alternates between three POVs. The adopted child/parent relationship between Loulie and Qadir was one of my favourite things about this novel. Their connection really shone and there were also complexities to their relationship which were well explored over the course of the novel. I also found Aisha a really interesting character and the path she ended up taking had some interesting character development (I can’t say more without major spoilers!). I liked that not all of the main cast were all-powerful or expert fighters. Mazen has lived a sheltered life, and is a natural storyteller, not a fighter. He had an emotional arc and I honestly just wanted to give him a hug.
The audiobook is well narrated, and I especially enjoyed the narrators for Loulie and Aisha. However, I found the delivery of Prince Mazen’s narrator a little flat at times.
Although I have a lot of good things to say about this book, I just didn’t click with this one, and I’m not sure why. Perhaps the writing or the pacing didn’t quite hit the right note for me. It has so many ingredients I love, but I just didn’t feel engaged. The Stardust Thief is a great book and I’m sure it will be a four or five star read for many people so I would still recommend it even though it wasn’t quite for me.